Mayor Durkan's Proposed 2021 Budget

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Mayor Durkan's Proposed 2021 Budget

Dear Friends,

Today, Mayor Jenny Durkan is releasing her 2021 Proposed Budget. This budget comes during a series of challenges for the City. A global pandemic, an economic recession, a civil rights reckoning, climate related wildfires, and failing infrastructure in our City have all combined to make this budget unlike any other in our history. Our revenue challenges are a direct result of the pandemic causing a significant and immediate slowdown in economic activity. In 2020, we froze spending, delayed projects, and spent down our one-time revenue sources to delay impacts to the City.

The Mayor’s 2021 budget prioritizes maintaining investments in community that promote equity as well as critical funding to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. To the extent possible, this budget maintains core services in an effort to minimize the impact of filling a more than $300 million dollar shortfall to our City budget.

OSE’s 2021 budget reflects our commitment to responding to the ongoing pandemic and as well as centering our work and our economic recovery on climate justice. With less resources available we have prioritized those programs that reflect the priorities we’ve heard from our community members.

First and foremost, we have heard that climate justice equals food justice and that access to healthy, local, and sustainable food is critical to community health. We’re grateful that our food programs funded by the Sweetened Beverage Tax remain intact for 2021. With these funds we will be able to serve 9000 families with Fresh Bucks vouchers, a program that provides $40/month for fruit and vegetables. We’ll also be developing a system that will make Fresh Bucks easier to use for customers and small retailers and give us the ability to expand Fresh Bucks into additional retailers to expand customer choice. And we will continue our investments to provide healthy snacks for Seattle Public Schools students most in need. Whether kids attend school in person or online, our investments will get healthy fruits and vegetables to students most in need.

OSE’s Equity & Environment Initiative (EEI) also remains fully funded for 2021. This will allow us to continue investing in community-led environmental justice projects through the Environmental Justice Fund. In the past, this fund has been used to support soil restoration work with the Black Farmers Collective, implementation of the Air & Noise Pollution Community Action Plan in Beacon Hill, and visual storytelling and documentation project led by youth in the InterIm CDA’s WILD program. We are eager to support new projects and the creative ideas our residents have to serve their neighborhoods.

Our office will also continue to be guided by the Environmental Justice Committee, a group of thirteen community leaders who are dedicated to deepening the influence of communities of color in City environmental programs to ensure that the stories, experiences and policy priorities of Black, Indigenous and People of Color shape Seattle’s environmental work. Recently, they hosted a series of community dialogues to help identify top COVID recovery priorities and recommended actions. Additionally, the Mayor’s budget supports the hiring of the Equity & Environment Program manager this year, which has been open since the previous manager, Lylianna Allala, moved into the role of OSE’s Climate Justice Director.

Mayor Durkan’s budget invests in the Duwamish Valley Program, a multi-departmental effort focused on equitable development, anti-displacement, and environmental justice strategies in the Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods. In 2021 we will continue to support youth leadership development, efforts to improve air quality, and ensure inclusive community outreach and engagement to continue implementing the Duwamish Valley Action Plan. 

To preserve funding for the programs listed above, Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget reduces OSE’s travel and training budgets and makes overall budget reductions for many of our programs. It also extends the vacancies of two position until 2021, a building energy advisor position and the Green New Deal coordinator. We feel confident that we can still meet the urgent needs we’ve heard from our residents to advance environmental justice and ensure all communities benefit from Seattle’s environmental progress.

Finally, last week Mayor Durkan announced the creation of the Equitable Communities Initiative, a $100 million investment to address the systemic disparities impacting the Black and Indigenous and People of Color communities. These investments focused on the Black, Indigenous, and communities of color will be guided by a community-led Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force. The task force will be organized into four subcommittees, one of which is focused on Climate Justice and Green New Deal. We are eagerly looking forward to working with community and investing in the projects that will help them achieve the climate justice goals of the Green New Deal.

Over the next two months, the City Council will review the Mayor’s the proposed budget. Final adoption of the budget is expected on Monday, November 23. More information about details in the budget can be found at, and you can also direct any questions to

Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership.


Jessica Finn Coven, Director
Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment